I thought there had been a bit of inconsistency with the show openings this year - the first couple of weeks were interminable, last week was so much better thanks to Lena Philipsson, and I had hoped for The Ark to open the show but they didn't. Alluding to this week's host city as 'Sweden's version of Chicago' (maybe a Swedish reader would like to explain this to me - does Malmö have a tough reputation?), the hosts launched into a 'Chicago' song and dance routine with lyrics about Malmö. Anyway at least the opening didn't last too long, so on with the songs! (Interestingly enough, when the week's artists were announced, it was Linda Bengtzing who got the biggest cheer).
"This week's "Curse of Dilba" award - which I award every week to an established artist whose reputation means nothing at voting time - goes to Melody Club, a rather good and well established band. I liked "The Hunter" and it was a catchy and well-staged song, however it suffered from the lead vocalist's nervous vocal performance. I've always felt that this band were in the shadow of The Ark, so it didn't do them any favours when that band were this week's interval act. (More about that later). I really wanted it to qualify though.
One artist who didn't have any chance of qualifying this week was the previously unknown Julia Alvgard who made it to the final 32 as one of the webbjoker winners along with week 1's Jonas Matsson). On the plus side, she sang well and her song deserved to be there as it was very nice, although maybe lacking an 'edge' which would have made it even better. On a fashion note, I liked her hair but that dress with the padded shoulders was so wrong and it made her look like an old woman.
Tonight's food accompaniment was cheese and onion loaded potato skins, and I thought it would be a very good time to head off to the kitchen and pop them in the oven. Anything to avoid the offering by Lasse Stefanz. They may be one of Sweden's oldest and best loved dansbands, but aaaargh! What really shocked me was that this was written by Bard, Oson & Norell - all that songwriting talent and all they could come up with was Simply The Best? On the plus side, it had timpani and castanets. And that's about it really.
Who knew that Linda Pritchard would be so great? "Alive" was a big ballad, now you know I don't like ballads but was really impressed by her performance here. The chorus could have been stronger, but she really sold the song and it deserved to qualify. The styling was terrific - I love her hair, and that dress was amazing. Of course they wheeled out the good old SVT wind machine, and in 'Moving On' style I half expected that raised platform to make an appearance too.
I was really looking forward to seeing Anders Fernette singing "Run". I liked that moment when the backing vocalists ran out on stage, but my previous concern from my 'just a minute' post still stands: too many unnecessary distractions, all that Cirque du Soleil stuff going on overhead wasn't needed. His vocals were off in places, but at least he tried hard and I'd probably listen to this song after the contest is over.
And so to the long awaited comeback of Linda Bengtzing to Melodifestivalen. She seems to have taken over from Nanne and Carola as the fans' schlager-drottning of choice - why, she even looks like Carola now. On the plus side, I liked the song better tonight and she always looks as if she's really enjoying performing on the MF stage, and she packed this schlager-by-numbers with lots of sparkle and oomph. On the minus side, there is a fine line between competing in MF and being consumed with desperation to win it. On Saturday night I thought Linda maybe crossed that line or got very close to it. Oh and by the way I don't like yellow, and I hated those boots IMHO.
It took a while but I've finally warmed to the two hapless interrogators and I thought it was quite a funny moment when they mixed Nicke Borg up with Nick Borgen. (Funniest moment on Saturday for me was when they were talking to Love Generation who mentioned RedOne and the guy sang "Red Red One" which really made me chuckle, although no-one else here found it remotely amusing).
Anyway, Nicke Borg....bad styling, with trousers which looked far too big, and then that jacket-removal moment to reveal lots of tattoos. The song itself was an effective an anthemic hands-in-the-air swaying rock ballad, a real vote-winner. During the song I declared 'major dark horse alert'. Then they did the hologram guitarists thing and when that 'Anna Bergendahl' moment happened, with the audience waving lights around, I then declared: 'this is a finalist here'.
I thought Love Generation were pretty good, and delivered a slick and professional routine with their vocals working well for most of the time - which you can't always say for many girl bands. "Dance Alone" was like a cross between "It's Raining Men" and a 90s dance song, and I liked it a lot more than I'd expected to.
I missed the dull 'Hurricane' segment but was back in time to see The Ark take the stage after a "drill instructor" entrance with the band (surrounded by 'soldiers') dressed in military costume which was later stripped off to reveal some fab white outfits. A brilliant performance of "Breaking Up With God", and a very emotional one too as it would be their last major television appearance before splitting up.
Results: Linda Bengtzing won, with Nicke Borg getting the other Globen ticket after the second voting round.
Love Generation could only make it to Andra Chansen, which was a major surprise, although Linda Pritchard was less surprising as she really was a revelation this week. As you can see though, from the attached running order for the Andra Chansen duels, it's going to be tough next week. I don't like the duel format, it's pretty unfair and could result in the 'wrong' songs being chosen due to the luck of the draw. Do you know what? I'm not even going to try and predict next week's result!!